Panera First To Go Nationwide With Posting Calorie Info On Menus

The trend of chain restaurants posting calorie information alongside their food menu is about to go national. Panera Bread announced this week that they will be doing it at all of the chain’s company-owned stores starting on March 24.

In announcing the decision Panera execs claim they made the decision to go national based on two factors — 1) the fact that Congress is currently mulling the idea of mandatory calorie info; 2) positive customer reaction in areas where they’ve posted the calorie info.

“It puts everything out in the open, obviously,” said Panera Chief Concept Officer Scott Davis. “So when you look at making a choice between a soup with 100 calories and a sandwich with 300 or 400 calories, it puts it pretty clearly what’s in your best interest.”

The calorie information will go up in all 585 of Panera’s company-owned stores, including their Saint Louis Bread Co. and Paradise Bakery & Cafe outlets. The company hopes that their 1,380 franchised restaurants will follow their lead.

This makes Panera the first national chain to post calorie information. Yum Brands Inc., which owns KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silver’s and A&W All-American Food, have previously stated that they will post calorie info in all of their company-owned restaurants by Jan. 1, 2011.

Is there a need for a national law requiring restaurants to post calorie information? Does having the information next to the items on the menu have an effect on what you buy?

Panera to post calories at corporate-owned stores [AP]